Who is this Tucker Davidson the Atlanta Braves are starting tonight?
Tucker Davidson should have been pitching for the Atlanta Braves sooner this season.
Maybe he hasn’t got enough “stuff” for the scouts. Maybe he’s not the prototypical size. All I know is that in a season where the Atlanta Braves have been desperate for starting pitching, there’s a kid who just gets people out that hasn’t been given his chance.
That changes tonight when southpaw Tucker Davidson starts against the Boston Red Sox, and by our reckoning, it’s about darned time.
It wasn’t like there was a roster issue — Davidson was already on the 40-man roster, so no major move needed to be made. Huascar Ynoa is the pitcher optioned back to the Alternate Training Site to create space on the active roster, but that’s it.
It wasn’t like there should be concern about credentials or experience, either: Davidson is 24½ years old now and spent most of last season being the best pitching in the entire Southern League… out-pitching stable-mate Ian Anderson (2.68) in the process.
Fellow writer Jake Mastroianni and I got to see Davidson first hand in what was close to his best start of 2019 against the Birmingham Barons (White Sox).
In this day of protecting pitchers, Davidson went 8 full innings that evening, throwing 101 pitches while giving up 5 hits, walking 2 and striking out 4. Oh, and nobody scored while he was in the game.
Oh – forgot to mention this: some kid named Luis Robert went 0-3 with a walk and a strikeout against Davidson that day as Mississippi won 4-1.
Here’s the stat that tells you the most about Davidson’s game: 14 groundouts against just 2 flyouts. He pitches to contact, but keeps the ball down.
That game lowered his ERA to 1.65. He went on to have a league-best 2.03 for the year before being promoted to Gwinnett… throwing 129.2 innings overall.
Even at AAA, the lefty’s ERA in 4 starts was under 3.00. Anderson (6.57) couldn’t beat that, either.
At 6’2″/215, Davidson isn’t the physical specimen like some pitchers, but this Amarillo, TX product was doing quite well with the tasks that matter most — getting batters out.
There were calls for the return of Mike Foltynewicz from fans. Maybe he’s getting close to being ready (we can’t know for sure), but recall that he’s no longer on the 40-man roster… and that has consequences that Folty must overcome to earn his way back.
All that said, tonight is Davidson’s MLB debut, and you never know how these things will go. Heck, this is Kyle Wright‘s 3rd year with big-league outings and he appears to finally be “getting it” with a newly consistent and confident approach.
Still, one has to wonder whether the Atlanta Braves should have given Davidson a shot way back in July or early August.
The knee-jerk answer probably would be “he wasn’t ready then”, but there have definitely been “moments” where others have been run out to the mound with less “ready” in their own games (I won’t name the names… but we’ve all seen it).
So from us here at the Take, it’s our collective opinion that this was a long time coming — and coming too late to make a real difference here in 2020 (unless somebody else gets hurt in the meantime).
But better late than never, perhaps? At least Davidson is getting his shot tonight. Congratulations to him for that — for sure.